Oh the Holidays. It’s a hard time of year for a budget, when you buy for so many–immediate family, aunts, uncles, grandparents, teachers, babysitters, co-workers, mail man, paperboy, neighbors and the list is endless. It’s easy to spend way over your budget and charge gifts. That is a good way to completely crash the budget. It’s easy, until the payments are due.
Are you looking to be a bit more realistic and spend what you can afford this year? Here are some tips for how to set a budget plan and stick to it.
Cut Down Your List
You don’t have to buy for everyone you know. That’s when you start going insane and are destined to lose control. Start fresh. Sit down and go through your list. Knock off those you really don’t have to buy for and end with those that will stay on your list.
Talk to extended family members and plan other ways to celebrate without exchanging gifts. Have a potluck for all the families and assign everyone to bring a dish to share. Have a recipe swap with the dishes you bring. Draw family names and buy family gifts. Make a family basket with home baked goods and include things you know they love, but don’t have time to make.
Have a work day swap with families in the warmer months. Take turns getting together at each other’s house and work outside; end with a family barbeque. Instead of gifts, go out to lunch with co-workers. Have your office bring in a non-perishable food item for your neighborhood food shelf.
Ideally, decide how much you want to spend each year and in January start putting a portion of the budget aside. Make a list of what you want to get for each one on your list and don’t deviate from that. Watch your sales and get good buys. Buy throughout the year and wrap when you get it home. Shop around for the best price. You’ll have time and be less stressed if you start early.
Don’t charge unless it’s something you planned to do. And, never charge if you can’t pay it off within 30 days to avoid the interest. Use a layaway plan if possible. Lots of stores still offer this and it doesn’t usually cost anything. Take advantage of it.
Stick To Your Plan
Stay on budget. Stick to the plan you set. Don’t go overboard on gifts. Be practical. Do what is right for you, your budget and your circumstance.